The Chef's Cookbook: Amanda Ivy, Old Mill Bread
Amanda Ivy knew she wanted to be a chef since she was a kid. She has fond memories of cooking with her dad and going on fishing excursions with him. Ivy has one particular memory of using one of her dad’s old Southern Living cookbooks to make trout amandine with the fresh fish she’d caught with her dad when she was only nine.
“I remember my parents seeming surprised at how well it came out, and my mom saying, ‘You should do this,’” Ivy said. “It really stuck with me.”
Ivy got her start in the culinary world as a baker at La Brea Bakery in southern California after falling in love with the food there. She went on to pursue degrees in culinary arts and hospitality management at UA - Pulaski Tech in Little Rock.
Since her start at La Brea, Ivy has gone on to work at central Arkansas establishments such as The Southern Gourmasian, Heights Taco & Tamale Co., Skye’s Little Bistro, The Fold and Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom. Nowadays, you can find Ivy at Old Mill Bread where she serves as the restaurant’s executive chef.
Ivy starts her day with a run to clear her head before heading into work to make lists, prep the line and work the cafe through the lunch rush. She then bakes to fill Old Mill’s case or wholesale accounts, makes prep lists for the morning crew, answers emails, organizes events and finally, goes home to her husband for some shut eye before doing it all again the next day.
Over the years, Ivy says her biggest accomplishment has been passing on her culinary knowledge to younger chefs looking to make their start.
“I’m so grateful that I was taught and encouraged by my mentors that it means a lot to me to do that for others,” Ivy said. “I have a few that I’m really especially proud of.”
Guilty pleasure food: Crappy Chinese food (I blame MSG.)
Favorite celebrity chef: Hugh Acheson
Go-to meal when short on time: Old Mill chicken salad sandwich on cranberry pecan bread
Secret recipe you’ll never tell: My dad’s red beans and rice
Favorite vegetable: Fennel (Its versatility is highly underrated.)
Go-to kitchen gadget: My purple portion scoop
Favorite restaurant around town (besides your own): I have way too many to name. I will say that I’m local all the way. I love most everything in Hillcrest and SoMa.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee is life.
Favorite meal of the day: The one I have time to sit down and eat
ROASTED PORK LOIN WITH POMEGRANATE REDUCTION
- 2 cups pomegranate-infused balsamic vinegar (regular is fine)
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- Combine ingredients in a saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Reduce the liquid down to 1/3 the original volume or until it thickly coats the back of a spoon. This can take up to an hour.
Turnip Green Pistou
- 1 large bunch of turnip greens or collards
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 cup raisins, chopped
- 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp. fennel pollen (found on Amazon, but can omit)
- 1/4 cup fennel, minced
- 1 cup pistachios, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- Blanch greens in boiling water for one minute, then shock them in ice water with a splash of lemon juice in it.
- Mince the greens and toss all the ingredients together until fully incorporated.
- Let sit at room temperature until you are ready to serve.
- 1 whole pork tenderloin
- olive oil
- your favorite general rub (My favorite is Ferneau Seasoning.)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Rub down the pork loin with olive oil and season heavily with Ferneau Seasoning.
- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least three hours and up to 24.
- Remove loin from refrigerator and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- In a cast iron skillet over high heat, sear the pork loin all the way around, leaving the pork in the skillet.
- Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. If you have a thermometer, the temp should read 130°F when you remove it.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes, then slice.
- Serve with toasted Old Mill French bread over greens and drizzle with reduction.